Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

April 12, 13, 14, 2013

Cascadia Seminar in Medical Anthropology        

Keynote Speaker

Reassessing Embodiment in the Era of the Epigenome

Cascadia Seminar 2013 Keynote Address

Friday, April 12, 2013, 6:00 p.m.

General Admission


Epigenetic research to date has been largely confined to the molecular level, leaving social, political and environmental variables that contribute to the production of key epigenetic markers unexamined. A few recent epidemiological studies have broadened research goals, possibly deflecting a new round of somatic reductionism. In this talk, Dr. Lock provides a brief review of the late 19th century formulation of the nature/nurture concept followed by an account of the positions taken by renowned anthropologists Franz Boas and Alfred Kroeber.  She then reviews several key publications in behavioral epigenetics, and discusses the contributions that can be made by medical anthropologists to produce “deep” ethnographically-grounded research of epigenetics.  Anthropologists have until recently “blackboxed” the body, but there is a need for research on the specific historical, socio/political, and environmental realities of lived experience that influence gene expression and the production of epigenetic markers. Such research can productively draw on the twin concepts of local biologies and embedded bodies.  In closing, the potential for inter-disciplinary research will be discussed.








Dr. Margaret Lock is the Marjorie Bronfman Professor Emerita in Social Studies in Medicine, and is affiliated with the Department of Social Studies of Medicine and the Department of Anthropology at McGill University. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada, an Officier de L’Ordre national du Québec, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Lock was awarded the Prix Du Québec, domaine Sciences Humaines in 1997 and in the same year the Wellcome Medal of the Royal Anthropological Society of Great Britain. In 2002 she was awarded the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize and in 2005 the Canada Council for the Arts Killam Prize. She was also awarded a Trudeau Foundation Fellowship in 2005 and named a Grande Montréalaise, Secteur Social. Lock participated in the CBC radio program Ideas that ran between 2007 and 2008 entitled “How to Think About Science.” In 2008 she received the Career Achievement Award of the Society of Medical Anthropology, American Anthropological Association, and in 2011 she was appointed as an Honorary Member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, and received The McGill Medal for Exceptional Academic Achievement.

Keynote sponsored by SFU's Faculty of Health Sciences, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and the Office of the Vice President-Academic